To Tampa Bay Times reporter Michael Van Sickler ALL budget amendments are turkeys

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In a post for the Buzz, Tampa Bay Times reporter Michael Van Sickler, eschewing any sense of nuance, labels almost all of the amendments made to the Senate’s version of the budget by members of the Appropriations Committee as “turkeys.”

By Van Sickler’s logic, all of the amendments were member projects and all member projects are turkeys, therefore all of the amendments are turkeys. While this syllogism might work for Van Sickler’s and his editors, its a naive way at looking at the budgeting process.

It’s also not the agreed-upon definition of what constitutes a “turkey.”

According to the Florida TaxWatch, which produces an annual list of budget “turkeys”, a turkey is typically a legislative project placed in the budget “without the proper opportunity for public review and debate, which circumvent lawfully established procedures, or which noncompetitively benefit a very limited special interest or local area of the state.”

Van Sickler’s own reporting is proof that the amendments were not placed in the budget without public review and debate. And there’s no evidence to suggest these amendments circumvent any established procedures.

As to whether these amendments benefit a very limited special interest or local area of the state, I’ll concede that some of these amendments are locally-oriented, but not all of them (does money to a university benefit only a local area of the state or is it possible that an appropriation to a college benefits the entire state as students attending the school are likely to come from all parts of Florida?).

It’s just so lazy and simple to label every budget earmark a turkey when, in fact, some member projects are actually worthwhile. Identifying which ones sounds like an interesting assignment for a reporter like Van Sickler.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.